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The remains of a fertilizer plant burn after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013. The deadly explosion ripped through the fertilizer plant late on Wednesday, injuring more than 100 people, leveling dozens o
Saying that the fertilizer plant explosion that leveled much of West, Texas, in April was "not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration," the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not fund the rebuilding of the town. That leaves West in a tough spot:
The FEMA funds would have helped pay for public repairs such as roads, sewer lines, pipes and a school that were destroyed. It does not impact emergency funds FEMA has provided to individual residents. Last month, FEMA estimated the agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration had approved more than $5.6 million in aid and low-interest loans to West residents impacted by the blast.

West Mayor Tommy Muska said the rural community of 2,800 people estimated the cost of those repairs at about $57 million, including $40 million to rebuild a school that was destroyed when the West Fertilizer Co. blew up in April.

"We don't have the money to go out and borrow the money. We don't have the means to pay that note back," Muska said. "There's got to be some public assistance."

While this was a giant explosion, it didn't do the kind of damage we saw from Hurricane Sandy last fall or have since seen from tornadoes, so you can see where it would fall below FEMA's threshold for full-scale involvement. But the size of the disaster aside, the extent of the damage from the explosion was multiplied by Texas' libertarian zoning laws and weak regulations and oversight. Texas laws—laws that Gov. Rick Perry goes around bragging about—made this the disaster that it was. That's not to say the people of West don't deserve help. But the state of Texas does seem like the appropriate source of that help.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 11:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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